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Departing Dem chief Maria Weeg signs out

After three years, a veritable lifetime in Idaho Democratic politics, Maria Weeg is leaving her post as executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party. At the end of this month Weeg will take up the director's role for the Arizona Democratic Party.

In an exit interview with BW, Weeg talks about her party's work this last year and her feelings about Idaho's minority party as the 2008 campaigns loom.

What do you tell prospective candidates about how to do this job?

You have to figure out how to take the party to the next level. There's a lot left to do. We're going to have a lot of seats to defend in 2008, in terms of our legislative pickups. We want to try to pick up some extra seats.

Plus there's a potential for a vigorous Senate campaign in 2008, and a couple of strong Congressional campaigns.

Are you anticipating Sen. Larry Craig stepping down, or do you anticipate having a strong candidate to challenge him if he stays?

It's still unclear whether or not Craig's going to run for his seat again. We're really recruiting strong right now.

Larry Grant has made it clear he's going to go after U.S. Rep. Bill Sali again. Do you think he'd be tempted to go after that Senate seat?

It would be interesting to see what happens with Sali. From my understanding, there are going to be a lot of Republicans who are looking at going after him in the primary. So it's not necessarily Sali that you're going to be running against.

What I always believe in is to encourage people to run for the seat that they have passion for. I don't think it makes sense to run for a seat simply based on political opportunism.

Your party did well in Boise in the last election. Is the Idaho Democratic Party going to be a Boise party, given that you didn't do so well in the statewide offices?

We didn't do so well in the statewide offices, but we picked up a [legislative seat] in Idaho Falls, the first time in 30 years. We picked up county commission-level races all over the state.

So I really don't see that happening.

What do you think about the analysis that says the Democratic wins in the Legislature left a body that is tilted harder to the right, because moderate Republicans lost to Democrats?

Obviously, we did displace some moderates. But that's a problem for the Republican Party to deal with. Do they want to be the party of the conservative voices, or do they want to moderate a little?

Is it harder or easier to go after a candidate like Bill Sali a second time?

Both. Easier, in that he's now got a Congressional record to go after. But it's always harder to go after an incumbent because they've got access to more fundraising money.

This next election cycle is going to be very tough. The Republicans lost those seats in the Legislature. I think they're going to be going after those seats very strongly.

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